The Mind-Body Problem at Century's Turn

In Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy. Clarendon Press 129-152 (2004)
A plausible terminus for the mind-body debate begins by embracing ontological physicalism—the view that there is only one kind of substance in the concrete world, and that it is material substance. Taking mental causation seriously, this terminus also embraces conditional reductionism, the thesis that only physically reducible (i.e., functionalizable) mental properties can be causally efficacious. Intentional/cognitive properties (what David Chalmers calls “psychological” aspects of mind) are physically reducible, but qualia (“phenomenal” aspects of mind) are not. In saving the causal efficacy of intentional/cognitive properties, we save cognition and agency—and even relational facts about the similarities and differences between qualia—but not the intrinsic qualities of qualia themselves, which are physically irreducible and thus causally impotent. As there seems no credible alternative to physicalism as a general worldview, and this is as much physicalism as we can have, physicalism is not the whole truth—but it is the truth near enough. [1. Cartesian Minds Eliminated] [2. The Collapse of Property Dualism] [3. Physicalism at a Crossroads] [4. Can We Reduce Minds?] [5. Living with the Mental Residue] [6. Where We Are with the Mind-Body Problem] [7. Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: Self and Subjectivity]
Keywords Cartesianism  Mind-body  Physicalism
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